"This was my last job. Every job was 'my last job'."A seasoned criminal announces that he'll take on One Last Job before retirement to peaceful honest life. Usually, this leads to either a 10-Minute Retirement, or death by Retirony due to either a Plethora of Mistakes, his superiors deciding to show him there's only one way to leave their organization, or the universe deciding there is only one way back onto the straight and narrow. A frequently used variation with a more logical justification (and one that's probably more likely to stick in a non-fatal manner) is that this time, It's Personal. In the case where the criminal actually manages to pull this off, they often go on to become a Retired Outlaw. Compare That One Case for people on the opposite side of the law.
— Griffith, The Detonator
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Anime and Manga
- Luciano in Madlax decides to quit being a gun-for-hire but takes on one last job to assassinate Carrossea Doon. Seeing how it's episode 9, Luciano is a one-shot character, and Carrossea is a main one, it doesn't end well for the former.
- Uni from Katekyō Hitman Reborn! does this when she sacrifices herself (Gamma joins in, too) to seal away the power of the Mare Rings and revive the Arcobaleno so that a catastrophe like the Future Arc would never happen.
- Scar from the 2003 anime version of Fullmetal Alchemist does this, too. He turns Alphonse into a Philosopher's stone before dying.
- Aria the Scarlet Ammo has this in the beginning with Kinji, when Aria pulls him into the Assault Department after he has long since quit from them. He agreed to join one last time for one job so that she'll stop nagging him. He's still there.
- In the Astro City story arc "The Tarnished Angel", Steeljack finds that almost all of his fellow low-rent supervillain peers are constantly lining up for that one last job, the one that will lead them to greatness and riches... but it never works out.
"Oh, there was always a new job. And always a sure thing, too. This time was the big one, always. This time, the one that'd end all our troubles."
- Spider-Man villains the Shocker and Hydro-Man are determined to pull off one last job to retire on after a lifetime of hardship and difficulty. Spider-Man foils this attempt in a way that makes him look like kind of a dick.
- The final issue of X-Statix has the team embark on what they all agree to be their last mission before they go their separate ways. None of them survived the mission.
- Shakara: When Karnak tries to convince Valentine D'Eath to go out of retirement to destroy Shakara, Valentine lampshades it, noting that he's heard that line a million times before.
- What kickstarts the plot in The Alzheimer's Case, as aging hitman Angelo Ledda is asked to do one last job before he hangs up his guns for good.
- A common trope in heist movies, for example, The Asphalt Jungle, in which "Doc" is planning to fund his happy, girl-chasing retirement with the proceeds, and Dix hopes to have enough to buy back the family farm.
- In Out of Sight, career bank robbers Foley and Buddy discuss their planned heist of crooked businessman Ripley as being "their Last Job." Although Foley questions Buddy if they knew anybody who was successful enough with a Last Job to really retire...
- Sexy Beast is all about a retired gangster trying to avoid being forced to take one more job.
- The Italian Job (1969)'s climactic heist, which was more about proving a point than the money. The opening heist of the the new one was supposed to be Donald Sutherland's last job and it was.
- Blade Runner is about Deckard taking one last job to "retire" some escaped replicants.
- In Blow, the "protagonist" (for lack of a better word) wants to pull One Last Job before running away with his daughter. He is betrayed by former colleagues, who are working for law enforcement, and is unable to meet his daughter at the appointed time.
- Super Fly is a relatively rare example of a One Last Job scheme that works. Priest sells the 30 keys of cocaine, outsmarts everyone—his faithless partner, other drug dealers, the Dirty Cop—and gets away, and out of "the life".
- Gone in 60 Seconds (2000): Nicolas Cage is a former car thief who must come out of "retirement" to save his brother.
- Heat features Robert De Niro once again, planning one last bank heist, before retiring.
- Inception is about Dom Cobb taking on one last job, the titular "Inception," so Saito erases his murder charges so he can go home to the US and be reunited with his kids. He even gives up his entire share of the pay to do so. One possible inference is that if not for the murder charges, he might not even have been forced into a life of crime in the first place.
- John Woo's The Killer is about an assassin who takes on one last hit in order to help a woman he accidentally blinded during a disastrous job. He has to deal with a Contract on the Hitman due to his boss deciding not to pay him.
- Midnight Run is yet another "One Last Job" film featuring Robert De Niro, this time playing a bounty hunter who wants to retire and open a coffee shop.
- In Once Upon a Texas Train, John Lee is released after spending 20 years in prison. He re-forms his old gang to commit the same train robbery that got him arrested 20 years ago; only this time he'll do it right.
- In Red Dragon, the detective is lured out of retirement for one last case.
- The Saint (1997) is about Simon Templar's final job before he hits his predetermined retirement figure.
- Unforgiven: Clint Eastwood is a retired gunslinger who agrees to take on one last job.
- The Usual Suspects: Dean Keaton struggles with this throughout the movie, as he tries to convince himself that he has actually gone straight, and the job he's currently working on is truly The Last Job.
- The opening robbery in The Wild Bunch is supposed to be The Bunch's last job. Needless to say...
- Denis Leary's character in The Ref is trying to pull off "the big score, the retirement score".
- In The Score, Nick is ready to retire after almost getting caught during his previous theft, but his fence Max talks into stealing the sceptre from the Monteal Customs House as one last job, even though this involves Nick breaking one of his rules and committing a crime in the city where he lives.
- The Jidai Geki film Bandits Vs Samurai Squadron features the titular group of bandits doing one last job before retiring once and for all. Things go poorly.
- The Rundown: Dwayne Johnson plays an aspiring chef forced to pay off a mob debt by working as a bagman for a Florida mobster. His boss agrees to erase Johnson's debt if he agrees to take on a final job, flying to Brazil to bring his boss's son back home. It turns out to be by far the craziest job of his life but eventually the chef and the son escape after the former brings the latter home.
- About half of the films of the The Fast and the Furious franchise start as "one last job". Probably more.
- Averted in Robot and Frank. After discovering that his domestic help robot has a flexible attitude towards law and order, aging former jewel thief Frank plans to use it to help him carry out More Than One job - it's good to have a hobby!
- In Contraband, Mark Wahlberg plays an ex-smuggler who is forced to pull one last smuggling job to save his brother-in-law from a drug dealer.
- Vabank is one last job motivated not by money, but by revenge, which is why the whole thing has to be so elaborate.
- In The Train, the liberation of Paris is expected any day, so the resistance fighters figure that protecting the art train will be their last job of the war.
- In Predestination, the recruiting of John is the Barkeeper's last job before being decommissioned. Subverted when the Barkeeper's Field Kit fails to decommission, allowing him to continue time travel unsupervised.
- Scott Lang claims he's done stealing stuff in Ant-Man when offered a job by Hank Pym, who immediately says the job he has in mind is for him to steal something. So this is a de facto last job for Scott. That said afterwards he becomes a full-fledged superhero anyway so despite firmly jumping across the thin red line, it definitely didn't end up being the end of his exploits.
- Subverted in I Shot Jesse James. The titular outlaw is planning one of these at the beginning of the film, but the betrayal of Robert Ford causes him to die before he can pull it off.
- The titular assassin in The Day of the Jackal is well-aware that his career will effectively be over after assassinating the president of France due to the immense heat that would follow him, otherwise, and therefore he demands an exorbitant fee from the OAS plotters. They must resort to a string of bank robberies to afford his price, and this ultimately turns out to be the first step in his undoing.
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire mentions that Mad-Eye Moody is retired and takes on his teaching job as a favour to Dumbledore.
- In the Medstar Duology, one character is rising in the ranks of the intergalactic crime syndicate Black Sun, when the weather changes and he's reminded of his homeworld. Then he starts longing to return - but he can't just leave, not without having an appropriate gift for his vigo. Unfortunately he gets betrayed by the people he had steal it, and while he survives he knows he has to stay in the organization. In a later book his vigo is aware that he wants to leave and uses this to get him to do nearly suicidal things. In the end, he gets away by Faking the Dead.
- Artemis Fowl: Artemis was going to do one of those in The Eternity Code. Then his memory got wiped.
- A rare successful version in Song of the Lioness: eventually George Cooper, King of the Rogue, grows tired of his position and wants to go at least a little bit respectable. He just has to make sure that who ever takes his place is at least somewhat honest and caring (read: not Claw, the guy who's after the throne). He kills Claw, becomes the King's spymaster and a landed Baron, and marries Alanna. Pretty successful last job.
- The main character of the Elemental Assassin novels has been trying to retire since the end of the first book. Every book after that (Apart from a prequel novel) has her forced into this by either someone attacking her or stomping on her Berserk Button (Do not threaten her friends, family, or employees). As of 2016, the series is at thirteen books with no sign of stopping any time soon.
- Spoofed in Hit Man by Lawrence Block. A hitman decides he's going to retire, but needs a hobby to occupy his mind during retirement. So he takes up stamp collecting. But stamps can be expensive, so the novel ends with him deciding to stay with his chosen profession.
- Brenish has two in Below. Hoping to save money to marry, he plans to take an honest job in the city over the winter. He just has one more wagon heist to do so he can pay off a debt to his boss Gareth. It doesn't go well. Once Gareth learns Brenish has a treasure map, he ropes Brenish and company into a quest that would ostensibly be the last job for all of them. Unfortunately Gareth doesn't know the map is a fake, and there's no safe way to tell him.
- River of Teeth: When Houndstooth comes calling, Hero quickly agrees to do one last job despite having officially retired because, as Houndstooth surmises correctly, being retired turns out to be rather boring for Hero, though they make it clear that they plan to retire for good after this job, preferably with Houndstooth.
Live Action TV
- In 24, Jack Bauer has been "retired" or otherwise no longer officially part of things for a few seasons now. He should know by now that he's going to be doing this forever...
- Lampshaded in Chuck:
Sarah: “Well, it doesn’t change the plan. It just means we have one last mission.”The team: “Why would she…” “No!” “Come on, Walker.Sarah: “What?”Chuck: “Things never turn out well when you say, ‘one last mission.’”
- Hustle: It was Mickey's one last job that persuaded the rest of the team to come on board in the first episode. Needless to say, it wasn't actually his last job... This is a rare example of where the protagonist doing the one last job knows it isn't his last. Normally he's the one to get sucked back into it afterwards, but actually it is his plan all along to get the rest of the team in.
- Parodied in a sketch on Not the Nine O'Clock News where a man is reluctantly persuaded by a group of 'friends' to do one last job where "all you've got to do is drive the car." The job in question turns out to be driving a loudspeaker-equipped vehicle promoting the local Conservative party MP's election campaign.
- The Shadow Line has Joseph Bede, who is participating in one last drug deal to raise money for his wife's Alzheimer's treatment.
- Supernatural: Sam is an unusually young example, having "retired" from hunting while still a teenager in order to go to college. He agrees to one last job in the pilot episodes which turns into a lot more than that when his girlfriend is killed.
- Parodied in Black Books where Manny gets mistaken for a police officer after drinking too much coffee. To get out of being "transferred" he says he's been in the business for 19 years, had a perfect track record and this was his last case!
- In the backstory of Banshee the main character and his girlfriend Anna plan to steal $10 million worth of diamonds and then assume new identities so they can get away from their life of crime and Anna's mob boss father. The heist goes wrong and he spends the next 15 years in prison while Anna gets away with the diamonds and makes a new life for herself as a realtor, a wife and a mother in the small town of Banshee.
- Played for laughs in Orange Is the New Black. After Rosa finds out that her cancer has progressed and the DOC isn't covering the surgery that might save her, she teams up with a kid getting his chemo sessions at the same clinic to steal a nurse's purse for a whopping $63 haul. When he notices she's been idly casing the place and suggests acting on it, she lampshades the trope and scoffs, but doesn't take much convincing.
- Chris Hyde got himself bumped off doing his one last job. His son Kyle spends Last Window figuring out why he died and looking for the treasure he was after, the Scarlet Star.
- Final Fantasy X: Auron assisting with Yuna pilgrimage is his one last job. That dude doesn't even let the fact that he's already dead stop him.
- Grand Theft Auto Advance: starts of with a one last job situation, needless to say. Things become way more complicated than it seems.
- In Grand Theft Auto V, the trope name is used almost verbatim by Trevor to describe the Union Depository job.
- The mission that begins the endgame of Grand Theft Auto IV is this. Niko's finally gotten (or moved past) his revenge, and is ready to begin a normal life, when Jimmy Pegorino asks him to take part in a massive heroin deal. The player can choose to accept it or go on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, which determines which ending the player receives.
- Mass Effect 2: The assassination of Nassana Dantius was to be Thane Krios' last job. It was only Shepard's intervention and appeal for help that convinced him to help him/her, thus making Shepard's mission his new last job.
Thane: Hm, yes. A Suicide Mission will do nicely.
- Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth: Catching the Yatagarasu was Detective Badd's last job, the night of the last case was the last day before his retirement. No Retirony for him — rather than dying, he peacefully turns himself in afterwards to stand trial for also being the Yatagarasu.
- In The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, Player Character and Occult Detective Paul Prospero states that this will be his last job before retirement. After all, you can't go on to solve more cases when you're a fictional character in the middle of suffering Author Existence Failure.
- Uncharted 4: A Thief's End is Nathan Drake's "last job" as the Grand Finale of the Uncharted timeline, set at least two years after he told himself he'd stop adventuring and treasure hunting.
- Samurai Jack: One of the last episodes features a robot ex-assassin forced out of retirement by Aku (who has his dog) and sent to kill Jack. He is cut down offhand by Jack.
- The Onion parodies this with its article "Retired Realtor Drawn Back In For One Last Big Score".
- Also parodied in Outside Xbox. In one Show of the Week episode, Jane claims to have been dragged back in to do "one last job" in Rainbow Six Siege. This is followed by a montage of her being bad at Rainbow Six: Siege.
Mike: Was it your last job because you were fired?